Editor's Note: In part 1 of a special Oak Creek Patch series leading up to Memorial Day, local author Tom Mueller presents the story of some familiar local names. Check back for part 2 tomorrow.
The names Oelschlaeger, Dallmann, Meyer and Dziedzic are the focus of hand-on-heart reverence every year at Oak Creek’s Memorial Day event, and are emblazoned on the flags in the color guard at the head of the Fourth of July parade. They are a big part of our community’s patriotic DNA.
The first two are the fallen soldiers whose names are on the American Legion post and the second two are the names on the local VFW organization.
Who were they? In what wars did they die? What was happening in those wars at the time? This series in Oak Creek Patch helps today’s residents understand the sacrifices made by local men, starting long before Oak Creek was even a city.
They span three of the nation’s wars and much of the globe. Emil Dallmann was killed in World War I in France, and Frederick Oelschlaeger in World War II in New Guinea. James Meyer and Mark Dziedzic died in a single month in Vietnam, a horrible blow to a city that was under 14,000 population at the time, less than half of what it is today.
Their ages ranged from just 19 to 24. Two were in the Army and two in Marines. Oelschlaeger is buried in the Philippines; the other three are buried locally.
"I don't think too many people ever knew who they were before, and I am going to talk about them at the Memorial Day service” at Forest Hill Memorial Park, says Jim Oswald, commander of the Oelschlaeger-Dallmann Legion Post.
Oswald spent six years in the Wisconsin National Guard, the Army’s 32nd Division and the same Red Arrow division in which Oelschlaeger served. “I truly am humbled and honored to serve the veterans that gave so many sacrifices and time to our United States of America either in peacetime or time of war,” he said. “For a parent to lose a loved one in time of war has to be terrible … we honor these brave men and women.”
VFW Post Commander Joseph Maniscalco, who served in the Army in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967, says it is vital “to recognize those that gave their all for their country” and to honor all veterans who have died in the past year. It is important “for everybody to really think about what our veterans have given for their country. They’re the real patriots,” Maniscalco says.
The Legion’s two names are more well-known than the VFW’s because residents see them on the building as they drive past on S. Shepard Ave. across from East Middle School. The VFW does not have a building, but the sacrifices of its two men, Meyer and Dziedzic, are an equal part of the city’s history.
Tom Mueller, author of these reports, has called Oak Creek home since 1978 and has been writing for nearly 30 years about those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice. His two books are “The Wisconsin 3,800,” about men and women buried overseas or MIA from World War II, and “Heart of the Century,” about Korea and other events in the news and daily life between 1949 and 1951. His author website is www.warbooks.webs.com